River Research & the Boat that Makes a Difference

Lagrangian Houseboat

The Original Houseboat

There are two different ways to measure and assess water quality in river systems: one way is to measure continuously from fixed locations along a river, and the other is to measure continuously from a location that moves downstream with the river current. Through generous contributions from public and private partners, Phinizy Center has been measuring water quality since 2006 from 9 locations along the Savannah River, starting seven miles below Thurmond Dam (River Mile 214) to the I-95 bridge (River Mile 27) (see Continuous River Monitoring). In 2012, we began measuring water quality using the “river current” perspective by equipping a 30-foot houseboat with scientific instrumentation and floating, at river speed (about 3 feet per second), for over 145 river miles, which took about 5 days. That river expedition allowed us to capture very important data related to how quickly bacteria in the river process wastewater from Augusta to a few river miles above Savannah. The boat we used to do that important research was rather old, but it allowed us to do this important work, once!

In 2014, a conversation between Mr. Gary Swiggett, a boat insurance agent, and one of our Board members, Dr. Michael Ash, resulted in an excellent opportunity to purchase a boat better suited for our needs. Through a generous price reduction from the boat manufacturer, Premier in Wyoming, Minnesota, and generous philanthropic contributions from The Knox Charity Fund, Creel-Harison Foundation, and Wells Fargo, we were able to purchase the boat which arrived a week ago from Minnesota.

DSCN0203-20150131-00014414

We would again like to thank all of those who made this opportunity happen and we look forward to sharing the data with all of you from the river!